About Me

Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lake Chalice 'Marlborough' Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Growing Region: 4 selected sites in Marlborough, New Zealand

Owner/ Winemaker: Chris Gambitsis

Pure Elite Gold - Air NZ Wine Awards 2011.

Like a number of established wineries in Marlborough - Lake Chalice crafts their 'estate' Sauvignon Blanc not just from one site, harvested on one single day. But from a number of carefully selected sites that add unique personality to the wine, while at the same time drinkability in its youth. The fruit for his wine was sourced from the Talon Vineyard in Grovetown which this vintage made up approx 50% of the blend. The balance coming from three other vineyards in the Grovetown and Rapaura districts of Marlborough's Wairau Plain.
Because of this attention to detail - all of the grapes were harvested in peak condition. Then transported promptly to the winery and pressed without delay to enable minimal skin contact. Cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks using selected aromatic yeasts. From a total of 13 different vineyard/tank parcels, this particular blend is from seven carefully selected tanks to make up this 2011 Lake Chalice 'Black Label' Sauvignon Blanc.
In the glass in find a straw gold with green hints around the edge. The bouquet in dominated by the aromas of blackcurrant and grapefruit. The wine is crisp, with a medium bodied mouth feel, dry, refreshing and elegant palate. Mouth-watering acidity is balanced by a subtle mineral note on the lingering finish. Best served between 8-10C.
Drinking perfectly well this coming summer; and throughout 2012.

Perfect wine match with fresh fish, Asian & Vegetarian cuisine and summer salads, enjoy.


Vieilles Vignes

Vieilles Vignes is a French term (meaning ‘old vines’) - commonly used on wine labels to indicate that a wine is the product of grape vines that are particularly old. The practice of displaying it stems from the general belief that older vines, when properly cared for, will produce a better wine. However, in France, Italy, Spain and most wine countries, there is no generally agreed upon definition on what constitutes the best old vines, as a wine might or might not show any specific characteristics related to vine age.
Grape vines can grow for over 120 years, though after about 20 years vines start to produce smaller crops, and average yields decrease, which can lead to more concentrated, intense wines. Diseases such as ‘dead arm’ can afflict old vines, in some cases further concentrating the juice. The term ‘old vines’ might apply to an entire estate, or it might mean only a certain parcel, rows planted before others.


Some of the oldest commercially active grape producing vineyards are planted in the Barossa Valley in Australia, one of the oldest being the Langmeil vineyard which has Shiraz grapes planted in 1843, now being 169 years old. The oldest known grape producing vine grows in Maribor in Slovenia and was planted over 400 years ago, on the left bank of river Drava and is a wonderful exhibit of nature's resilience surviving a number of revolutions and two world wars. They produce a token of fruit each vintage of about 35-55kg grapes, which is fermented and put into about 100 miniature bottles. The 'Barossa Old Vine Charter' was established to protect the older vines in the region and prevent them from being removed from the ground.
Typically Vieilles Vignes VV is used on an estate where wine production has been longstanding; it often means a wine whose vines are greater than 30-40 years old. Some winemakers around the world insist the vines should be older than this. In newly-established wine regions, 20 years might be considered old. The definition is further complicated by the fact that certain varieties simply do not have economically viable yields when they get truly ancient.
Generally, the more reputable the producer, the more likely it is to mean something. Similarly, if a producer sells an ‘estate’ and ‘old vines’ bottling, it is more likely to represent a discernable difference in character, if not necessarily in quality.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the summer series of winemaker interviews.

It has been said on many an occasion that great wine expresses its ‘terroir’ - it reflects its sense of place. The name Nga Waka was chosen to reflect its sense of place. The name is taken from ‘Nga Waka A Kupe’ (The Canoes of Kupe), given to the three hills which lie side by side like upturned canoes, and which form the backdrop to the town of Martinborough and its surrounds.


Roger Parkinson has been described as an “artisan grape grower and winemaker “, and Roger has crafted his 100 percent estate-grown Martinborough wines since 1993. The vineyards were established by the Parkinson family back in 1988, and to this day remain family-owned and operated. Rogers’ parents Gordon and Margaret maintain an active interest in the company along with his wife Carol whom is the financial manager. Roger is a Roseworthy College graduate and prize winner, after four years of overseas study and work experience Roger returned to New Zealand in 1992. Roger is responsible for all aspects of wine production along with being the CEO and has experience in winemaking and viticulture in New Zealand, Australia and France.

Nga Waka vineyards are all accredited to ‘Sustainable Winegrowing NZ’ - reflecting the importance Roger attaches to sustainable management practices and preserving the land for future generations. This attention to detail in all aspects of winemaking is clearly evident in the outstanding complexity of his Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc that he crafts from his 10 hectares of vineyard.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
Drinking! Actually, I was lucky enough to gain my first exposure to wine in France and to experience at first hand a wine culture, I was hooked. The modern NZ wine industry was just firing up when I was in my early 20’s and the opportunity to be part of the evolution of a homegrown wine culture was irresistible.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
Roseworthy Agricultural College in South Australia - completed Post-graduate Diploma in Wine in 1989. I received Penfolds Viticultural Scholarship Award.

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pinot Noir because it’s so hands-on and incredible when you get it right and Chardonnay because it’s simply the greatest white variety and also the most versatile.

Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
There is an Argentinean white variety, Torrontes, which I reckon would do very well in NZ.


With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
Putting all the other stuff (marketing, admin, etc) to one side and being fully immersed in harvest and winemaking.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
1995 and 2004 stick out as particularly challenging vintages due to rain. The wines of those vintages have stood up remarkably well which is very satisfying as we did huge amounts of extra work removing botrytis-damaged grapes and being ruthless about what came in to the winery. Bloody stressful years though.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
Emile Peynaud, a brilliant wine scientist, taster, author and teacher of winemakers whose interests and understanding encompassed all aspects of wine and its use.

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
Julius Caesar. Fascinating mix of autocrat, genius, warrior, intellectual, traditionalist, destroyer of traditions. A genuinely great man of his era.

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you - what would it be and why?
A big one! Probably have to be one of those giant Château d'Yquem bottles, I love the wine, it would keep well once opened and the sugar would be an excellent energy source while waiting for rescue.

If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
Alsace. Fantastic people, magical place and I’d love to give Pinot Noir a real go there, watch out Burgundy in the right site.


What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
Taste, taste, taste! Irrespective of the type of wine you are going to make you need to understand great wine and the only way to do that is tasting and drinking it.

If you weren’t a winemaker - what would you like to be and why?
A great session guitarist. To be able to work with a multitude of different musical talents would be a dream come true.

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
Well, profitability would be a good start! Seriously though, we are close to re-planting some blocks and I’m excited about the prospect of introducing some different clones of Chardonnay (548) and Pinot Noir (777 and maybe MV6). On a general note I see us consolidating a reputation for growing high quality, authentic Martinborough wine which enhances the enjoyment of food and improves in the bottle.

Nga Waka Wines are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers and restaurants. Or visit their website: Nga Waka

Monday, January 23, 2012

Brookfields 'Robertson' Pinot Gris 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Gris

Growing Region: Ohiti Estate, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Owner/ Winemaker: Peter Robertson

I have been visiting Brookfields since the first vintage of this wine back in the late 80's - yes, for 20 plus years. So I am confident in the fact that I can give you an honest insight into this wine, being arguably New Zealand's most dynamic Pinot Gris. A predominant portion of the fruit comes from Ohiti Estate, which is situated in an inland heat trap on the bed of the old Ngaruroro River. Planted and carefully nurtured on arid alluvial soils, the Pinot Gris vines have no concerns with ripening, and producing fruit packed with flavours, good character and balanced acidity.
The fruit was picked in the early evening, on arrival at the winery; the parcels were pressed as soon as possible. The free run juice was kept separate from the pressings. After cold settling overnight, the clear juice was inoculated with an aromatic yeast and fermented at cool temperatures to retain vibrant characters. Following completion of fermentation, the wine remained on its gross lees for palate texture and flavour enhancement.
In the glass you are greeted by a pale straw colour. The nose of the Pinot Gris has benefited from the cooler temperatures with good fruit intensity evident and leaping from the glass. On the palate Nashi pear dominates, with hints of wild honey playing a balancing role on the back palate. There is a subtle residual sweetness to this wine which makes the 'Robertson' Pinot Gris a pure delight to share with some many occasions. Serve at 8-9C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer; and for another 2-3 years, if you can wait that long.

Perfect wine match with Asian cuisine, flavoursome seafood dishes and cheese selection, enjoy.

Arguably New Zealand's most dynamic Pinot Gris.



Trockenbeerenauslese (literal meaning: selected harvest of dried berries) is a German wine term for a medium to full body dessert wine.
Trockenbeerenauslese is the highest in sugar content in the Pradikatswein category of the German and Austrian wine classifications. Trockenbeerenauslese wines, often called 'TBA' for short, are made from individually selected grapes affected by 'botrytis' or noble rot. The grapes are individually handpicked, having been shriveled by the botrytis, often to the point of appearing like a raisin. They are therefore very sweet and have an intensely rich flavour, commonly with a caramel or honeyed bouquet, ripe stone fruits such as apricots. The finest examples are made from the Riesling grape, as this variety retains plenty of acidity even at the extreme ripeness. Other grape varieties used, such as Scheurebe, Ortega, Welschriesling, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer and others are more prone to noble rot than Riesling since they ripen earlier.


These wines are rare and expensive due to the labour-intensive method of production, and the fact that very specific climatic conditions (which do not necessarily occur every year) are required to create botrytized grapes. They are usually golden to deep golden in colour, sometimes a dark caramel. The wine is viscous and concentrated, and arguably can be aged almost indefinitely due to the preservative powers of its high sugar content. Although TBA has very high residual sugar level, the finest examples are far from being cloying due to high level of acidity.
The style is similar to, but much more concentrated than 'Selection de Grains Nobles' from Alsace. In comparison to Sauternes, the wines are considerably sweeter, a lower alcoholic strength and are usually not oaked. The minimum sugar content for a Trockenbeerenauslese is 150-154g/L. In exceptional years, top producers can exceed these levels, resulting in a richer, sweeter wine; they can contain 300+ g/L and may approach the very rare 'Tokaji Eszencia' in concentration.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Grower's Mark 'Ballochdale' Pinot Noir 2009

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Growing Region: Ballochdale Vineyard, Marlborough, New Zealand

Vineyard Director: Garry Neill

Ballochdale Estate Vineyard rises up to over 300 meters above sea level and then on the edges on three sides falls off into these very deep gorges. Before planting they lit a number of small controlled fires to observe the air flow movements on cold mornings and it became very clear that there was a very consistent southerly drift of air draining off down into the gorges. This all aids in minimizing frost risk to which Pinot Noir can be vulnerable in the early spring due to it being an early shooting variety.

The pristine grapes were machine harvested at night. The individual clones (115, 667, 777, 113 and UDC5) were fermented separately. The grapes had a 'cold soak' for colour extraction for five days, then warmed and fermented to dryness. Once dry, the wine was pressed off and underwent malolactic fermentation. Once through malolactic fermentation, the best parcels were blended together to make this wine.
In the glass you will find a deep crimson colour. The wine has and elegant, floral lifted nose with hints of violets, red cherries and ripe plum jam notes and a hint of toasty oak. On the palate this wine is the quintessential Marlborough Pinot Noir. A burst of ripe summer fruit, ripe plums, blackcurrant and raspberry jam flavours abound. The wine finishes with a sweet fruit note, with balanced tannins and oak. Decant for 20-30mins and serve at 15-17C.

Drinking perfectly well this summer; and over the next 2-3 years.

Perfect wine match with seared tuna, salmon, pizza, mature cheeses, enjoy.

A versatile Pinot Noir with light dishes.



Amontillado is a variety of sherry, characterized by being darker in colour than Fino but lighter than Oloroso Sherry. It is named for the Montilla region of southern Spain, where the style originated in the 18th century, although the name 'amontillado' is sometimes used commercially as a simple measure of colour to label any sherry lying between a Fino and an Oloroso.
An Amontillado sherry begins life as a Fino, fortified to approximately 13.5 percent alcohol with a cap of flor yeast limiting its exposure to oxygen. A cask of Fino is considered to be Amontillado if the layer of flor fails to develop effectively, or is intentionally killed by additional fortification or it is allowed to die off through non-replenishment. Without the layer of flor, Amontillado must be fortified to approximately 17.5 percent alcohol so that it does not oxidise too quickly. After the additional fortification, Amontillado oxidises more slowly, exposed to oxygen through the slightly porous American oak casks, and gains a darker colour and richer flavour than a Fino - naturally dry; they are sometimes made lightly to medium sweetened.


An Amontillado Sherry can be produced in several different manners. A ‘Fino-Amontillado’ is a wine that has begun the transformation from a Fino to an Amontillado, but has not been aged long enough to complete the process; whilst a ‘medium sherry’ is an Amontillado that has been sweetened. ‘Amontillado del Puerto’ is an Amontillado made in El Puerto de Santa María.
Due to its oxidative aging and preparation, Amontillado is more stable than Fino and may be stored for a few years before opening. After opening, it can be kept for up to two-three weeks, if re-corked and stored in the fridge.
Amontillado Sherry is usually best served slightly chilled, and may be served either as an apéritif, or as an accompaniment to food such as chicken, veal, pork or rabbit with mushrooms. Classically it was served with a fine, or thin, soup, like a beef consommé.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Allan Scott 'Marlborough' Gewurztraminer 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Gewurztraminer

Growing Region: Marlborough, New Zealand

Chief Winemaker: Josh Scott

I encourage all wine enthusiasts to think more about this grape variety, your first taste of this Gewurztraminer will certainly make an impression due to its intense flavours and inviting aromas. Being one of the earliest varieties to ripen, it benefits from the intense heat of early summer causing tremendous richness. The Scott's have two premium blocks that achieve optimum ripeness and good complexity. Conventionally trellised while grown on stony but fertile soils, the vines are tended to ensure uniform ripeness, with bunch thinning and leaf plucking aiding this.
Picked in the cool of the morning the grapes were promptly crushed and left to macerate on their skins for eight hours. The grapes were then pressed, racked and inoculated for cool fermentation with an aroma producing yeast in both stainless steel and old barrel, then after fermentation the stainless portion is left to lie on its lees for 3 months whilst the barrel component was stirred to develop extra richness, body and complexity.
On the nose your will find a myriad of orange peel, rose water and ginger spice. On the palate, the wine builds through the complex flavours, lingering on the finish with a return to the aromatic backbone of the wine. The finish is rich but has a cleansing freshness about it which fascinates and invites further tasting, thought and matching with so many flavoursome cuisine occasions. Serve at 8C.

Drinking perfectly well this coming summer; and over the next 18 months.

Perfect wine match with subtle spiced Malaysian, Asian & Indian cuisine, and fruit desserts, enjoy.

More food matches than you give it credit.



A monopole (‘monopoly’ in French) is a vineyard area controlled by a single winery (or wine company) and can be as small as a designated vineyard (select number of rows) or as large as an entire AOC. The Napoleonic inheritance laws typically caused vineyards to be so finely divided that négociants are needed to bottle commercial quantities of a wine. Whether a monopole indicates a wine of unusual quality or not is a matter of much debate.

Example of monopoles: (in Burgundy)
Romanée-Conti and La Tâche - (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti).
A monopole wine is a wine produced from the grapes of a single vineyard with that vineyard's name appearing on the wine label. Throughout the history of winemaking and viticulture, the differences in quality between one plot of land and another have been observed with the boundaries of these vineyards well demarcated. In Burgundy, the vineyards of the area are classified with the highest quality vineyards receiving the ranking of Grand cru. The names of these vineyards will often appear on the wine label of Burgundy wines in bolder, more prominent print than even the name of the producer.


Monopole wines are usually pricier than multi-vineyard wines, and are typically produced in limited quantities. Naming the vineyard on the label lets buyers know that the wine inside the bottle was made from special fruit that possesses certain unique characteristics.
Though some monopole wines are named for properties owned by the wineries themselves, many of the best vineyards are owned by independent growers who don't produce any wine of their own. Instead, they grow grapes on behalf of winery clients, who pay growers by the ton or by the acre for their fruit. Grapes from top winegrowers are usually in great demand, which allows them to charge top dollar for their grapes. Are monopole wines better than non-designated wines? Only if you prefer the characteristics of the fruit that come from those particular vineyard sites.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Akarua 'Central Otago' Pinot Rosé 2011

Grape Variety: 100% Pinot Noir

Growing Region: Bannockburn, Central Otago, New Zealand

Chief Winemaker: Matt Connell

Central Otago, as a viticultural region, has rapidly gained international customer and media interest for producing dynamic Pinot Noir wines. The vines at Akarua were first planted in 1996 and further vineyard development has progressed in the intervening years. Over time as vine age increased along with knowledge of their individual vineyard sites, quality has been on the rise across all varieties and styles of wine - this Rosé is no exception.
After careful harvesting, the grapes underwent a pre-ferment maceration: i.e. a cold soak for 5 days. Fermentation took place at a cool temperature of less than 13C, which has resulted in a fresh and lively rose wine.
In the glass you are greeted with a light strawberry crush colour. On the nose you will find lifted strawberry characters with hints of passion fruit. The palate is vibrant with juicy red fruits and a lively mouth feel, giving the wine a good length to the finish. As with the best Rosés from around the world - this wine has been made to be enjoyed as a young wine - chill and serve at 8C.

Drinking perfectly well this coming summer; and well into 2012.


Perfect wine match with shellfish, prawn or salmon salad, and fresh strawberry desserts, enjoy.

Strawberries with alcohol in a glass, enjoy.



Sangria is a delicious, fruit-based wine 'punch' with its traditions well rooted in Spain and Portugal, also consumed in Argentina, Uruguay and Trinidad & Tobago. It normally consists of wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, and a small amount of added brandy.
To be specific, the wine used to make Sangria is a light, dry, young, high acid, un-oaked, inexpensive wine, usually red wine due to Sangria's association with the word blood. In the case of fruits, they are chopped or sliced such as orange, lemon, lime, apple, peach, melon, berries, pineapple, grapes and mango. A sweetener such as honey, sugar, simple syrup, orange juice is added. Instead of brandy, other liquids such as lemonade may be added conversely spirits can be added to increase alcohol content.


Because of the variation in recipes, Sangria's alcoholic content can vary greatly. White wine can be used instead of red, in which case the result is called Sangria Blanca or as in Argentina 'Clerico'. An affordable bottle of un-oaked, fruit forward Chardonnay works well. Some recipes that use heavier reds can be lightened by mixing a bottle of white in the mix. In some parts of Northern Spain, Sangria is called 'zurra' and is made with peaches or nectarines, in some regions of Portugal; cinnamon is also added with the sweetener.

Sangria is served throughout Spain and Portugal during summer and in the southern and eastern parts of the countries year-round. Often served in 1-litre pitchers or other containers large enough to hold a bottle of wine plus the added ingredients. A strainer also helps prevent the fruit and ice cubes from falling into the glass.
Sangria is also commonly served in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Chile and the Philippines, in bars and restaurants. While Spain is heralded as the creator of Sangria, countries all over the globe have adapted the recipe to make a fruit-filled wine beverage that is refreshing and easy to drink with a wide variety of foods and summer occasions.